Collaboration takes the fight to waste criminals

Written by: Pat Jennings | Published:
CIWM's Pat Jennings

As the independent Noel Report outlined in November 2018, the involvement of organised crime in the waste sector is an increasing problem and many stakeholders agree on the need for a more strategic and collaborative approach in tackling it.

Lessons can be learnt from the security industry, which successfully dealt with a similar infiltration by working with a range of stakeholders to raise standards and exclude criminals.

The recently formed Legitimate Waste Trade Advisory Group (LWTAG) brings together waste and other relevant industry representatives to provide advice and make recommendations to UK environmental regulators on better ways to understand, tackle and reduce waste-related crime.

The LWTAG was initiated by the LIFE SMART Waste project to raise awareness of vulnerabilities within the waste sector, such as transportation by unauthorised carriers and the risks of illegal storage on derelict land or vacant warehouses.

LIFE SMART Waste is a multi-agency project co-funded by the EU LIFE Programme, with the aim of developing and demonstrating innovative ways to understand, tackle and reduce waste-related crime. The project is led by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in partnership with Natural Resources Wales, ACR and Brussels Environment.

The broad membership of the group means that it can offer a range of expertise and analysis to government policy-makers and regulators on the scale and scope of threats, along with recommendations on ways to counter these. The number of organisations involved has grown rapidly and currently includes: the Canal & River Trust, CIWM, the Environmental Services Association (ESA), Prismm Environmental and WRAP.

Other relevant bodies are also invited to meetings to provide specific input on topics such as new and emerging technologies, proactive campaigns, and academic findings.

The newly appointed chair of the group, Pat Jennings from the CIWM, said: “Given its very nature, tackling the growing threat of serious and organised crime requires much more proactive cross-sector collaboration, from more effective intelligence sharing through to promoting a better understanding of the risks of waste crime and raising awareness in areas such as duty of care.

“UK governments and the waste and resources industry have already started to work together more closely to reduce waste crime and this group will make an important contribution to the development of smarter and more effective frameworks to deal with waste crime.”

Following the first two meetings of the group, guidance on the “3 Steps to Resilience” has been developed. This provides practical advice for different sectors in three main areas, ie, Due Diligence (how to keep your business safe), Duty of Care (how to keep others safe) and Safeguards (because, even with best checks and measures, things can go wrong). The guidance outlines what these mean from various perspectives and provides tactics that can be selected dependent on the situation and level of risk.

Other developments include collaborative work in relation to new technologies; communication platforms for relevant case studies and campaigns; developing improved accreditation schemes and the delivery of training that will increase competence.

Communication is key to achieving the mutual aims of the group, both across the waste industry and to their customers in other industries. Putting aside individual commercial interests to agree collective priorities will ensure the integrity and power of the group’s contribution.

It’s not only the right thing to do but it is also good for business. There is growing evidence that businesses are more likely to achieve long-term economic success when they demonstrate that they go beyond what is required by regulators, setting themselves higher standards and operating in a highly ethical manner.

In recognition of the cross-border nature of organised crime in the global waste sector, the group’s success may inspire others to share best practice and create a network of similar collaborations in other countries.

Pat Jennings is head of policy and communications at CIWM.



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